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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 29 Sep 2007 09:27:00 GMT
The Footy season is coming to a rapid close as Grand Final day approaches. Soon the NRL trophy could be headed back to Victoria where many feel it rightfully belongs.

For the record I tipped Manly to win the competition last year.

I wrote at the time the Sea Eagles are a year away from being the genuine article.

That was before the Sea Eagles lost to St George Illawarra in the elimination final at the Sydney Football Stadium.

This is the Sea Eagles time and they will defeat the Melbourne Storm by a margin of 1-12 points

Melbourne are wonderful team having made two grand finals in succession under the constraints of the salary cap and the evenness of the competition..

The Storm have set high standards.

Here is the rundown on the Eagles and Storm clash which will become the focus of the world for 80 minutes on Sunday night LIVE at Telstra Stadium in the heart of Homebush.

MELBOURNE.

Key men: Michael Crocker, Matt King and Cameron Smith.

This trio are the heart and soul of the Storm's performances in 2007.

Crocker is a terrific inspiration from the way he plays, Smith is a gem of a player and King is a tower of strength on the left hand side of the field.
When this trio fire the Storm look good and near unbeatable.

Strengths:

Speed, size and skill across the ground. They hold terrific defence and allow for very few line breaks to get through their the defensive system.

They hold plenty of skill around the rucks with Cameron Smith and power through Michael Crocker, prop Ben Cross and second rower Ryan Hoffman.

Scheming halfback Cooper Cronk hasn't made any silly decisions of late, although his game in the grand final last season was poor. He’ll be looking to go one better this year.


Fullback Billy Slater is in doubt with a knee injury but Matt King, Steve Turner and Israel Folau, have tries galore in them.

Matt Geyer – who is a stable influence now that he's playing off the bench, can slot into five-eighth, half if needed, centre, fullback and wing.

Greg Inglis is playing at five-eighth but his best position I find is at fullback.

Weaknesses:

I have harped on this all year but the Storm do struggle when they get behind on the scoreboard, which isn't very often, yet they cannot alter their game in these circumstances.

Parramatta and the Storm were locked 10-10 last Sunday and had one of those Krisnan Inu tries been allowed, I feel the Eels would have won at the critical stage.

Cooper Cronk is prone to kicking too long, too short or even out on the full in general play if he gets flustered.

MANLY:

Key men: Michael Monaghan, Brett Stewart and Steve Menzies.

The above trio have been Manly's best all year.

Anthony Watmough is just a shade behind them.

While very well balanced, Manly possess no real champions in the team except for the great Steve ‘Beaver’ Menzies.

Strengths:

They hold great defence, are highly athletic, superbly fit and their forwards are tough.

Well coached, hard to score against and using a very clever defensive pattern which tends to suffocate opposing teams, it's like a piece of endless string which forces teams to play a wide and long passing game.

in the end those teams run out of room.

Matt Orford is in good form and if he can hold his nerve on Sunday night, he may win a grand final against his old club, Melbourne.

Former Storm centre Steven Bell will be hoping he too does the victory lap against his former club.

Weaknesses:

The Sea Eagles can find it hard to get across the line in games inside the opponent's 20 metre line. Manly tend to pass, pass, pass instead of running to the line and passing.

Verdict:

This will be a close grand final between the game's two best teams this year. The teams with the best attack and defense are meeting, so there won't be much in it.

My prediction is that the Eagles will nudge ahead by four points to win 16-12. - Read More, Here